Concerns grow about police raid at 1492 Land Back Lane following court hearing in which Haudenosaunee land defender was muted

Published by Brent Patterson on

“We never brought guns to anybody’s front door, they brought them to us.”: Haudenosaunee land defender Skyler Williams yesterday evening in this video by One Dish One Mic.

There are growing concerns about an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) raid against the 1492 Land Back Lane camp on Six Nations territory near the city of Caledonia following a court ruling prohibiting the presence of land defenders at a construction site for a 1,000 unit housing development that lacks free, prior and informed consent.

The Haudenosaunee land defenders began their occupation of the site on July 19 and experienced a police raid on August 5 following the court issuing a temporary injunction against them in late July. To date, 33 land defenders and allies have been arrested.

Yesterday, APTN reported: “The spokesperson for the 1492 Land Back Lane camp in Caledonia, Ontario may be on the hook for $20 million in damages after an Ontario Superior Court judge found him in contempt of a court order, tossed out his evidence and made two injunctions permanent.”

That article adds: “In that [discarded] statement of defence [that noted the history of land theft and colonialism experienced by Six Nations peoples], Williams counters that the Crown, not him, should be liable for damages for failing in their duty to consult with the community regarding development of the disputed parcel.”

Williams has previously stated: “This development must be seen as being yet another instance in an ongoing history of colonial land theft and genocide, that it is people from Six Nations who are facing the greater harm if this matter is decided against their interests.”

One Dish One Mic also reports that the hearing was held both in person and on Zoom and that after Williams commented about the abuse of process that he “was muted by the court for the remainder of the proceeding and prevented from offering a defense for the reclamation of 1492 Land Back Lane.”

Following the ruling several OPP cruisers appeared on the road by 1492 Land Back Lane.

Ricochet reports: “Witnesses say police fired at least six rubber bullets and tasered a young man after someone threw a rock at their cruiser. In the ensuing chaos, Ontario Provincial Police fell back to a reinforced position about 500 metres from the camp’s back entrance.”

This 2-minute video on Twitter shows part of that clash.

The Ricochet article also notes: “There were roughly 20 land defenders at the camp, but by 8:30 p.m. ET [on Thursday night], their numbers had swollen to between 100 and 150 as community members flocked to the scene.”

Late yesterday evening there was also this Twitter photo of OPP cruisers in a parking lot noting: “Large police build up currently visible in Caledonia, Ontario.”

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, the traditional governance body for the area, has not granted its free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for the development. FPIC is a key principle in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Notably, the land being occupied is part of the Haldimand Tract that was granted in 1784 to the Six Nations of the Grand River. Six Nations launched a challenge in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 1995 for the unlawful dispossession of this land from them, but it is not scheduled to be heard until October 2022.

Human rights journalist Brandi Morin has tweeted: “My God let’s not repeat the past! OPP have killed Indigenous over land rights in the past-Dudley George, Ipperwash, 25 years ago. Now OPP firing rubber bullets at Six Nations Land Defenders over a housing development on Six Nations Treaty promised land. Canada, stop this.”

Peace Brigades International was present in the aftermath of the OPP shooting of Aazhoodena land defender Anthony ‘Dudley’ George who was seeking a return of his ancestral lands near Sarnia, Ontario that were being used as a Canadian military base.

PBI-Canada expresses its deep concern about the treatment of Skyler Williams in court, how injunctions have been used to criminalize Indigenous land defence struggles in this country, the use of state violence [drawn weapons, rubber bullets, Tasers] against unarmed land defenders, and we further reaffirm that defending rights is not a crime.

1492 Land Back Lane has set up this Legal Fund to assist with their legal costs. For the latest updates, see #1492LandBackLane on Twitter.

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